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Monday, 2018-03-19, 4:21 PM
Conspiracy Theories: A New Religion?
"Simulation is the situation created by any system of signs when it becomes sophisticated enough, autonomous enough, to abolish its own referent and to replace it with itself."
-- Jean Baudrillard
Baudrillard tells us that we've entered hyperreality, sometimes defined as the more real than real. It seems an odd concept, yet perhaps we can find a good illustration in the proliferation of conspiracy theories. 'RL' - Real Life - is often associated with accidents, cock-ups, laziness, ineptitude, bad luck, unforeseen circumstances, unintended consequences, coincidences…a miasma of mess, muddle, disorder, chaos, unconnectedness. Cause and effect exist, but not in a simple, satisfying way.
People don't like the unadorned real. We're always looking for patterns that make sense: easy-to-understand cause and effect. Even when we look at the clouds, we imagine we're seeing definite shapes (like faces or animals) rather than amorphous blobs. We can't help ourselves - our minds are wired that way. When we can't find obvious cause and effect, we're left baffled. Even distressed. But our anxiety is relatively easy to cure. We simply invent an appropriate cause and effect and impose it on the problematic situation. The more cause and effect we can cram in, the happier we are. We feel we are understanding the world. We resist the notion that the truth, in a form we can grasp, is not out there. There must be some comprehensible pattern of cause and effect that explains everything.